A Grief Observed

511xvsiepal-_sx337_bo1204203200_Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment,” A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings.

2 thoughts on “A Grief Observed

  1. The loss of a significant person in my life still hasn’t happen, but reading Lewis’ reflection on the passing of his wife was gripping, how grief made Lewis’ normally more logical progression in his books to read more like an angsty, doubting composition where his thoughts bounced around from one to another. Lewis’ relationship with H., the struggle of not creating a false, ideal H., and the reflections on suffering and if they continue after death were poignant points for me, for me to consider too when the day comes when someone significant passes in my life.

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  2. I just finished this book (a two-day gripping read), and I am thankful that I came across this book during the winter break. This book is Lewis’s attempt to make sense of his recent grief that came from losing his wife Helen Gresham to cancer. He originally did not intend to publish his notes, but later he concluded that his notes could be of help for those going through similar situations. This is an honest, stark record of a Christian intellectual whose faith in the benevolent nature of God is shattered by the inevitable event of wife’s death, and it concludes with his (partial, if not total) overcoming of his grief.

    Three parts that stuck out to me: (1) In Chapter Three, Lewis concludes that bereavement is a universal and integral part of the experience of love: the loss of a spouse is not a truncation of marriage but is another phase of the marriage. (2) In Chapter One, Lewis fears that his mental image of Helen will slowly transform to how he wants her to be remembered, losing the genuineness of her image over time. However, in Chapter Four, he comes to the conclusion that as he needs Christ, not something that resembles Him, he wants Helen, not something that resembles her. This frees him from his constant obsession to remember his wife and the grief that comes from the failure to do so. (3) He further concludes that his idea of God is not a divine idea, and it has to be shattered time to time by God. It is in this sense that Lewis calls that “[a]ll reality is iconoclastic.” When I read this sentence, I was reminded of the C.S.Lewis seminar by Dr. Jerry Root that I attended August 2016.

    Besides my grandparents, I have not yet experienced a loss of significant others in my life. I am thankful that through reading this book, I will be more prepared to cope with similar situations in the future.

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